Christmas season is over and retailers are heaving a sigh of relief. Last minute shoppers and online sales helped the 2015 season post a healthy 7.9% increase over 2014 sales. This year a new product category appeared in over a one million homes – drones or Unmanned aerial Vehicles (UAVs) sending shudders through the officials at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
UAVs had been responsible for a number of unfortunate mid air accidents and they are seen as posing a security threat, disrupting commercial air traffic and intruding on citizens’ privacy. In anticipation the FAA passed a ruling that all new UAVs need to be registered with the FAA. Simple drones can be registered online and the requirements get more complicated as the weight, size and payload capacity of the UAV increase.
The deadline for registering your cool UAV gift is fast approaching (Jan 21st 2016). Early estimates indicate less than 200,000 new drone owners have completed the process. It remains to be seen how the FAA will enforce its registration rules, the fines for non-compliance are steep. Civil penalties can reach $27,500. Criminal penalties can cost you as much as $250,000 and three years in prison.
Seems to be yet another case where regulations and policy are failing to keep up with swift changes in technology and innovation. The industry might have to rely on enlightened self-regulation to establish sensible and fair use of the airways.
Original story: From the Wired Magazine